Skip to main content

Full text of "The admission of women to the University"

See other formats

The University of North Carolina 
Chapel HiU 

The Admission of Women 

to the 



President H» W. Chase 

March, 1923 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

The Admission of Women to the 
University of North Carolina 

The question of co-education at the University has 
aroused so much discussion that it seems to me the 
position of the University administration should be 
made clear. The position is, in a word, that the 
policy under which the University is now operating, 
and which has been decided upon after careful 
thought, is altogether in keeping with the logic of 
the situation, and with the mature thought of tJie 
great majority of both men and women in the State. 
There appears no evidence that it should be changed. 
What does appear, however, is a considerable mis- 
understanding of just what that policy is, and a 
begging of the question brought about by the division 
of opinion as to whether a building for women should 
be erected at this time. 

The question as to the. immediate erection of a 
woman's building is one to be determined in terms 
of what is practicable now. The University's atti- 
tude toward women students, on the other hand, can 
be considered only, as it has been considered, in the 
large and permanent terms of State policy. Let us 
see, then, on what the University's policy is founded. 

k Equality for Both Sexes 

In the first place, no great democracy is possible 
today without full and free recognition on the part 
of its citizens of the fact that there must be for 
both sexes equality of educational opportunity. The 
State of North Carolina, in her rapid progress needs 
trained women, women of wide horizons a^nd clear 
vision, every whit as badly as she needs trained men. 
In so far as higher education opens a way to life, 
to larger life, that way must be open to young women 
and young men alike. In so far as higher education 
is a means, as the framers of our Constitution said 


p 3c>oSfe 

it was, to promote ' ^ the happiness of the rising gener- 
ations/^ the rising generation without distinction of 
sex is entitled to its benefits. 

Second. The University of North Carolina is the 
State University, the head of the State's educational 
system, maintained from the public funds, to serve 
the State whose creation and instrument it is. It is, 
as it is described in the Constitution, for the bene- 
fit of the youth'' of the State. No constitutional 
provisions, no legislative enactments, bar women from 
its halls. It is, therefore, its duty and privilege to 
function in the education of women in whatever ways 
are designed to insure to the women of the State 
equality of educational opportunity through the 
State's educational system. It cannot conceivably 
take any other position; it cannot for a moment be 
satisfied with any policy which would mean that it 
refused to play its part in making possible a well- 
rounded system of higher education through State 
support for women as well as for men. It cannot 
deny its function as the University of a democratic 
State, whose citizens of both sexes share equally the 
duties and the rights of citizenship. 

Keeping the two principles stated above in mind, 
it is clear that the part which the University should 
play becomes a matter of definition, a question of 
fact as to what is essential to make equality of edu- 
cational opportunity a reality. It is a questioTi to be 
determined, that is, in the light of the facts as to 
what the State is doing and should do for the educa- 
tion of women, and which can be wisely settled on 
no other basis. What are the significant facts? To 
my mind they are these. 

Development in State is Different 

State universities in most sections of the country 
have not separated their facilities for the higher 
education of women from those for men. Such State 
universities as those of lov/a', Michigan, California — 


in fact, those of the middle western states generally — 
offer university education to women from the fresh- 
man class up through the graduate school on the same 
campus and under the same instructors as for men, 
and have done so from their foundation. In North 
Oarolina the development has been somewhat different. 
With the full assent and active support of the citizen- 
ship of the State, the institution for women at Greens- 
boro, originated as the Normal College, is broadening 
into the North Carolina College for Women. I trust 
that no one will think me presumptions for saying 
anything in this connection about another institution 
than the one I have the privilege to serve; it is essen- 
tial if the situation is to be clarified. The North 
Carolina College for Women, then, with the thoughtful 
citizenship of both sexes in the State behind it, began 
some years ago its development into a State-supported 
institution of collegiate grade and scope, and has been 
recognized as a standard college by the Southern As- 
sociation of Colleges and Secondary Schools. This 
matter of policy in the higher education of women is, 
I believe, settled in the minds of the State, and to it, 
as the State has defined it, the University should, and 
does, cordially assent. 

Now this means certain things. It means, first, 
that the University cannot, and should not, attempt 
to do what Iowa, and Michigan, and California, and 
their neighbors have done; adopt a policy which en- 
rolls hundreds and thousands of women in elementary 
classes on the same campus with men. In none of the 
States which have done this does there exist a sep- 
arate state institution for women playing a part in 
the state's educational system comparable to that 
played by the North Carolina College for Women. 
The point should be emphasized, because I do not 
think that it is fully understood. State-supported 
normal schools for women exist all over the country; 
separated state colleges for women are rare. The 


most fully developed example outside of North Caro- 
lina is probably the State College for Women of 
Florida, which is located at Tallahassee, while the 
State University (to which I believe women are not 
admitted at all) is at Gainesville. 

In the light, then, of our local situation, I am con- 
vinced that a policy of absolutely free and unre- 
stricted co-education at the University of North Caro- 
lina would not be wise. It would involve on a large 
scale a duplication of resources and of expenditure 
for large elementary classes; such an unnecessary 
duplication as should have no place in a well-con- 
ceived State system of higher education. 

Graduate Work at Chapel Hill 

Let us consider next the other extreme, that of 
graduate and professional instruction. Such instruc- 
tion has been built up through years of effort at 
Chapel Hill. It is expensive, it is w^ork of Univer- 
sity, as distinguished from collegiate, type. The 
State demands such work of its University. It is 
one of the functions for the performance of which 
it exists. I do not believe that I am saying any- 
thing to which the friends of North Carolina Col- 
lege for Women would not assent in stating frankly 
my opinion that, save for the fields into which women 
largely enter, the logical place for graduate and pro- 
fessional work for both women and men is at the 
University of North Carolina. This is at once the 
simplest and most economical solution; the simplest 
in that strong schools already functioning exist at 
Chapel Hill; the most economical in that the dupli- 
cation of specialists, books and apparatus would be a 
terribly costly business. Is it not clear, then, that 
the graduate and professional schools of the Univer- 
sity should, as a wise measure of State policy, always 
be open to women as well as to men? I, personally, 
am absolutely convinced that it is. 


As to Advanced Undergraduate Work 

So far, then, a logical policy would seem to point 
to the exclusion of women from elementary work at 
the University, and their admission to graduate and 
professional work. But there is still another point. 
What of their admission to advanced undergraduate 
courses! The answer to this question is, I think, 
clear. It is inevitable that, as soon as we get beyond 
the elementary courses of freshman and sophomore 
grades, which are fairly well standardized in all 
good colleges, institutions will vary in the range and 
scope of the advanced courses which they develop in 
this or tliat department, and that students of vary- 
ing types of mind and interest will find at different 
institutions that work which most nearly meets their 
needs. Local situations, matters of institutional 
policy, naturally lead to greater developments in ad- 
vanced work at a given institution in some fields 
rather than others. It would seem logical, therefore, 
that women who find at the University as juniors and 
seniors advanced courses which the University has 
developed, and which are in line with their serious 
interests, should be allowed to pursue them. Any 
other policy would, I believe, be a contradiction in 
fact of the theory of equality of educational oppor- 
tunity upon which our State system of higher educa- 
tion must be based, inasmuch as the needs of young 
women of widely varying types of interest must be 
considered if real equality of opportunity is to exist. 
There is in such a position no conflict of scope be- 
tween the institutions at Greensboro and at Chapel 
Hill; rather in this respect they are to be considered 
as supplementing each other. 

Policy Is Not New 

I The policy I have outlined is, I believe, fully in 
■accord with the logic of the situation. It is not 

I 7 

original with me, but is the policy under which the 
University has been operating for years. Women 
have been, and are, welcome here under that policy. 
It has not, I think, been fully understood, and I have 
attempted to clarify it. I see no reason why it should 
be changed, save as it changes in detail of itself 
naturally through the years, in terms of the offerings 
of North Carolina' College for Women and of the 
University in this or that department. I believe it 
is a policy upon which the friends of both institu- 
tions can unite, as wise alike for the institutions and 
for the best interests of the education of women in 
the State. 

The question of a building for women at this time 
is another question. It is not, and should not be 
considered as, a determining factor in the Univer- 
sity's attitude toward women. Whether it can or 
cannot be built at this mombnt is a matter which 
must be carefully studied in the light of all the facts, 
and of the best interests of the University and of the 
State. But whether or not it is built at this moment, 
the provisions of adequate material facilities for 
women at the University in accord with its fixed 
policy is an obligation which the University cannot, 
and has no desire to, escape. On the contrary, the 
University has no deeper satisfaction than that ol 
proper provision for the needs of the growing com- 
monwealth which it serves. 

But this is apart from my main point. What I 
have tried to say, as clearly as I know how, is that 
the University believes in equality of educational op- 
portunity for both sexes, and in its duty to see to 
it that it does its part to help make that principle 
a reality. ^